It’s now a foregone conclusion that the ending of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series will be revealed by its own television adaptation, Game of Thrones. While fans of the book series may be disappointed about that, they can at least be thankful they’re not getting the original ending to A Song of Ice and Fire.
George R. R. Martin’s first draft of A Game of Thrones, sent in a letter to his publisher in 1993, was quite a bit different than the story we wound up with. Although some elements of the plot Game of Thrones fans are familiar with were in that original outline, most of it reads like a bizarre, alternate Westeros from Internet fan fiction.
To make matters even stranger, Martin sent in the first 170 pages of the novel with that letter, meaning the beginning of Game of Thrones was meant to set up a bizarre, intensely uncomfortable alternate plot. Almost three years passed between the letter and the actual publication of A Game of Thrones in 1996, and enough changed in the interim to get the story back on track. It started, though, in a world you'll barely recognize.
In the original draft of A Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister spends time in King’s Landing bonding with Arya and Sansa Stark, and after getting betrayed by his brother, Jaime, he joins the Stark cause. During this time, he falls madly in love with Arya Stark, although his love is not reciprocated.
Unfortunately, Jon Snow had already fallen in love with Arya, and she with him, during their time together at the Wall. This would lead to a “deadly rivalry” forming between Jon and Tyrion, but its unclear what the ultimate result was meant to be.
To really get a handle on the insanely uncomfortable nature of the plot points in Martin’s origin draft, let's look at the central love triangle between Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Tyrion Lannister. The fact that Arya has remained so young in the story audiences are familiar makes this idea downright creepy, to say nothing of the fact that Jon and Arya were raised as siblings. For most of the series, in fact, they believe they are.
It’s also incredibly uncomfortable to realize the early family bonding between Jon and Arya, like him mussing her hair or gifting her with Needle, were originally meant to set up a future romance.
Not all of the differences between the original draft of A Song of Ice and Fire and the finished product are necessarily positive changes. Robb Stark still died young, but he got to do some serious damage to the Lannisters before he passed on.
Joffrey Baratheon took to the battlefield against Robb, and the two eventually faced off in one-on-one combat. Robb badly maimed Joffrey, which is something any Game of Thrones fan would have dearly loved to see.
In Martin’s original draft of A Game of Thrones, Robb Stark still went to war against Jaime Lannister after the death of his father, Ned, but things went quite... differently. Jaime was directly aided in battle by the sharp military mind of his brother, Tyrion, which eventually led to Robb getting killed after a few early victories.
While Jaime and Robb were at war, Tyrion played the eventual role of the Greyjoys by besieging and then burning down Winterfell, despite his apparent friendship with Arya and Sansa Stark.